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Understanding change and peacebuilding in a Colombian human rights NGO

REL Practice Paper 2 This paper looks at the Theory of Change of the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP), a human rights NGO and long-term partner of Christian Aid Colombia. It offers a window into understanding how an organisation set up to respond to a violent conflict perceives change in its own role as the conflict itself changes.  The paper traces shifts in CIJP’s relationship with the state, with communities, with its allies in civil society and with the private sector, and the strategies and interventions it now uses to work towards mobilised communities, an operational rule of law, and a democracy based on justice and peace. As well as documenting its current ToC, the paper proposes to Christian Aid and CIJP an approach that could be used to track future shifts to build up a detailed, long-term picture of the strategic evolution of a CSO in a shifting political context.   Author: Rosemary McGee

Balancing research and practice in an international NGO

REL Practice Paper 1 Ten Years of Change is a collaborative, long-term practitioner research initiative designed to take place in three countries – Colombia, Kenya and the UK. It is implemented by the Research, Evidence and Learning team at Christian Aid. The research began with the overarching question how are community members and supporters being influenced by, and influencing, processes of social change? Each country team adapted the question to make it relevant to their socio-political context, and designed research at several different levels, from local to national. This paper tells the story of the first three years of Ten Years of Change. It narrates our ideas and ambitions and how we clarified them; how we identified where, by whom and how the study would be implemented; and how we worked with colleagues in other countries to begin to translate our idea into practice. It then discusses the forces that shaped the parallel but distinct evolution of each of the three streams of the study, before reflecting on the challenges of trade-offs and power. It concludes by returning to some of our assumptions about practitioner research, reflecting on how they played out in practice, finally turning to considerations for the next stage of the study.  

Engaging in the peace process in Colombia

Christian Aid and our partners have worked to tackle violence and build peace for more than 20 years in Colombia, demanding an end to violence and calling for justice on issues of impunity and human rights violations committed in the course of the conflict. This paper, on the second anniversary of the signing of the Colombian Final Peace Agreement, gives a brief overview of this work and shares the key programmatic learnings, reflections and insights from this experience of peacebuilding by our partners. 

Fair and equitable research partnerships case study: Eric Gutierrez

Funding for research in international development often includes a focus on fair and equitable partnerships. Academics from the global North are increasingly encouraged by funders to include academic partners based in the global South and civil society practitioners in their research projects. But achieving this is complicated: partnership and research are both political. This case study is one of a set of resources that has been designed to help academics, NGOs, CSOs, research brokers and funders put principles for fair and equitable research partnerships into practice. The case study explores insights from Eric Gutierrez of Christian Aid, who was involved in a successful application to the Global Challenges Research Fund for a research project looking at the way economies transition from war to peace. The project is led by SOAS University of London, a respected UK university. Christian Aid became involved in the project because it had previously worked with SOAS to commission research. In this case study, Eric reflects on the experience of being involved in the research application process. He talks about the time and work involved in the application, the challenges of tight deadlines, and the structural barriers that limited Christian Aid’s role. He discusses on Christian Aid’s experience in lobbying for policy change, and how this kind of work can be overlooked by academic actors with less experience of ensuring that research leads to policy change.

Fair and equitable research partnerships case study: Kate Newman

Funding for research in international development often includes a focus on fair and equitable partnerships. Academics from the global North are increasingly encouraged by funders to include academic partners based in the global South and civil society practitioners in their research projects. But achieving this is complicated: partnership and research are both political. This case study is one of a set of resources that has been designed to help academics, NGOs, CSOs, research brokers and funders put principles for fair and equitable research partnerships into practice. The case study explores insights from Kate Newman of Christian Aid, who reflects on her experience of participating in an moderator panel for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), convened to make funding recommendations to the AHRC based on a ‘Network Plus’ call funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund. It was Kate’s first time on an academic moderator panel, and she found the experience very challenging. She was not clear about her specific role on the panel (was she there to represent a civil society voice, or as an individual participating in a panel?), there were no clear criteria against which the proposals should be evaluated, and there were vastly different expectations of academic research and development impact across the panel. Kate asks questions and makes recommendations for future panels to enable better participation of civil society representatives on similar panels.

Christian Aid Ireland’s adaptive programme management

Governance, gender, peace building and human rights Tackling the problems of poverty, vulnerability and exclusion that persist in parts of the world that continue to be affected by violence or political insecurity is difficult for several reasons. For one, because of the complexity of the prevailing social, economic and political systems, solutions to chronic problems are far from obvious. One response to this aspect of the challenge is adaptive programme design and management. This paper, 'Learning to make a difference: Christian Aid Ireland’s adaptive programme management in governance, gender, peace building and human rights', is the product of a multi-year collaboration between ODI and the core team of Christian Aid Ireland to assess the relevance of adaptive or trial-and-error approaches to the field of governance, peace building and human rights. It explains the basis on which Christian Aid Ireland’s current five-year programme funded by Irish Aid has become committed to an adaptive approach. It then describes and seeks to draw lessons from the programme’s first year of experience, considering the possible implications for implementation over the coming years.